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Russia Is Taking French Detente Proposal Seriously

Russians welcome president Hollande's change of heart on sanctions, but warn that Ukraine progress is not up to them

PARIS, January 5 (TASS) - The European Union’s leaders should be guided not by emotions but by commonsense in the issue of whether to cancel anti-Russian sanctions, and they should not link the step to progress in the Ukrainian settlement, a senior Russian lawmaker said Monday while commenting on French President Francois Hollande’s statements.

Hollande said on France Inter radio that deterioration of the economic situation in Russia is no good for Europe and that “now sanctions should be stopped.” He also added that sanctions “should be dropped if there is progress (on Ukraine).”

In comment on this, Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the international affairs committee of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, said:

“Emotions should give way to commonsense.”

“In this case, both Hollande’s statements and the signals coming out from other European capitals — Berlin, Rome — show that the situation, although slowly, is still developing in the desired direction,” Kosachev said.

The senator said Hollande’s statement cannot be considered a sign of split in the EU political elites, as there has been no “united front” regarding sanctions.

“It’s a different matter that there is rather tough discipline in the European Union, when the opinion of EU leaders is being imposed on all EU members by force and administrative methods,” he said.

Kosachev said Brussels should listen to voices from Hungary, Slovakia, Finland “which have been very much skeptical regarding sanctions from the very beginning.”

He said “the EU is beginning to realize that heavy-handed discipline inside the EU is not the best way to manage the organization.”

EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Spokeswoman Catherine Ray, while commenting on Hollande’s statement on anti-Russian sanctions, said Monday that it is a personal opinion of the French leader.

In turn, Kosachev welcomed Hollande’s words, but said he was disappointed with the fact that “cancelation of sanctions is once again linked to achievement of progress in the Ukrainian crisis.”

“This is by definition a wrong link, as progress in the Ukrainian crisis depends not on the position of Russia or some other side.

It depends on the actions, approaches and positions of the Ukrainian authorities themselves,” he said, adding that the Ukrainian crisis is internal.

So, he said, all countries who want the conflict settled should act jointly instead of making demands toward each other.

Kosachev also called for continuation of seeking ways out of the Ukrainian crisis “in the Normandy format, in the Geneva format — in all formats that help progress of the intra-Ukrainian dialogue.”

The positions of Russia and Western nations and Kiev on the Ukrainian developments differ radically.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the intra-Ukrainian crisis, but the West and Kiev accuse Moscow of “annexing” Crimea and participation in clashes in Ukraine’s war-torn south-east. Western nations have subjected Russia to sanctions.

Russia has constantly dismissed accusations of “annexing” Crimea, because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after a referendum in mid-March 2014, as well as allegations that Moscow could in any way be involved in hostilities in the south-east of Ukraine.

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